Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Aaron Holz

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Fine Arts, Major: Art, Under the supervision of Professor Aaron Holz. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2019

Copyright (c) 2019 Lindsey Day


I am preoccupied with the nuances of ordinary risk. I view this not as paranoia, but as prudence. To live without fear is a privilege, to be arrested by it is paralyzing. I often encounter two competing ideologies, two lenses, through which risk is evaluated. The first lens is for the victim, the person being crushed by, or blinded from, cautiousness. They see life as something happening to them, and avoid active risk-taking. The second lens is held by the person dominating apprehension, taking action in spite of consequence. I am inclined to find and maintain a balance of these divergent outlooks, as I routinely compare and contrast my exposure to danger, harm, and loss, with respect to my environment.

In the public domain, I am directed by the forces of a universal, non-verbal system. I must stop when the light turns red, yield to strangers, stay within the painted lines, and succumb to the ceaseless editions of road construction. Crushing Caution is composed using imagery of construction, traffic control and barricade objects, and road navigation symbols. Pedestrians and drivers habitually react to the shapes, colors, and forms of these objects as they serve as warning against danger. Orange, yellow, red, and anything neon, stand out in nature; they vibrate against the cool blues, greens, and browns of the sky and land. Even without the pulse of human traffic, landscapes move and speak within their structure, color, and sign language.

Through painting and drawing, I appreciate and challenge the modern landscape for its formal energy and rich implications. I insert myself into a system of my own fabrication, playing the role of a contractor, an urban planner, a material contributor and a liberal performer. In the controlled environment of my studio, I am the sole conductor of risk and defender of caution. Oil paint and brush are tools for representation, and oil stick and bar are tools for abstraction. Capricious marks fused with reserved observation functions to isolate the imagery from reality. This combination of tactile expression is where I find productive balance.

I paint and collage on wood panel substrate for its durability. The surface is resilient to a wide variety of materials, as well as aggressive scraping and scratching techniques. From start to finish, there is no universal methodology or formula within my process. I am constantly taking risks with color, scale, medium, and assemblage. This allows each painting to inform me just as I inform the painting. Chaos becomes an anticipated, and even desired, mechanism for discovery and growth. The painting, Crushing Caution , on which my thesis was built, is a result of this process. I painted and drew chaotically, anxiously applying colors, textures and shapes to exaggerate the omnipresence of unpredictable hazard. Traffic cones and caution tape that usually serve to guide our actions are presented in disarray, a warning of unknown cause and effect.

Flower Flags is a drama painting. It presents a dense curbside plant under the influence of urban development. The large, green leaves are punctuated by cautionary red marker flags. In much the same way that a red rose blooms from a thorny stem, these utility flags illuminate the electricity being placed in the ground. Why not consider and accept both scenarios as beautiful allegory of life?

The works in Crushing Caution are symbolic; the colors and forms manifest warning, but the active threat has been removed. They instigate both fear and thrill of the unknown. They advocate for vigilance and embrace chaos. Each piece becomes its own object of caution, a permanent icon of inherent risk.

Adviser: Aaron Holz

Included in

Painting Commons